Guus Hiddink insists blooding youngsters has to be one of the ‘objectives’ of the club now they are out of the title race.
Teenage midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek fired the second goal as Chelsea eased past Scunthorpe 2-0 in Sunday’s FA Cup third-round clash at Stamford Bridge.
Interim manager Hiddink then tipped the 19-year-old to step up his battle to break into Chelsea’s starting line-up, accepting the club must make the most of its homegrown talents.
“It’s not said by the club but it’s automatically a consequence, that you start using the youngsters under condition that they must learn,” said Hiddink.
“We’ll see in the upcoming time we go into now in the Premier League, and while fourth place is still possible it also gives an option for younger players that they can come in more easily.
“It’s normal if you have the academy with a lot of investment they must keep up to the level of what’s demanded in the Premier League.
“If you see two or three players coming in and then playing I think that’s one of the objectives of the club as well.”
Diego Costa’s fourth goal in three games put Chelsea in charge only for the clash to descend into a gritty battle.
Loftus-Cheek scored the next goal after replacing Oscar at half-time, leaving Hiddink impressed with Chelsea’s England Under-21 star.
Hiddink believes Loftus-Cheek has the ability to feature across any midfield role – but admitted he will challenge the teenager to focus on hard graft.
“Ruben came in and he had a beautiful goal, not just in the execution but the way he prepared himself, and that was good to see,” said Hiddink.
“He can play on either side, but it depends how you play.
“He can also play when you play two controlling midfield players and one high on the midfield, he can play up there.
“But it’s important he also has a hard-working role.
“And if you play number 10 it’s a role where you can maybe get away without so much hard work, but that’s not what we want.”
Eden Hazard is likely to miss both the midweek clash with West Brom and Everton’s trip to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, while Nemanja Matic missed the Scunthorpe victory owing to being hit in the head by a stray ball in training.
“I don’t want him (Hazard) to fall again with muscle problems,” said Hiddink.
“I want to be careful with him that he doesn’t start too early.
“And Matic was just a bit dizzy after being hit by the ball.”